BI’s Article search uses Boolean search capabilities. If you are not familiar with these principles, here are some quick tips.

To search specifically for more than one word, put the search term in quotation marks. For example, “workers compensation”. This will limit your search to that combination of words.

To search for a combination of terms, use quotations and the & symbol. For example, “hurricane” & “loss”.

Login Register Subscribe

Nurse’s retaliation suit against hospital can proceed

Nurse’s retaliation suit against hospital can proceed

A federal appeals court has reinstated charges that an Ohio hospital interfered with a nurse’s Family and Medical Leave Act rights and subjected him to retaliation.

Joseph Casagrande began working at Riverside Methodist Hospital, which is operated by Columbus, Ohio-based OhioHealth Corp., in December 2011, according to Tuesday’s ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in Joseph Casagrande v. OhioHealth Corp. and Amy Sayers.

The position on the hospital’s 7 Orange unit, which was a high-acuity unit that included sicker patients, was his first job out of nursing school after a 25-year career working as an accountant and chief financial officer, according to the ruling.

In January 2013, after taking a second medical leave of absence, he was ready to go back to work but was told he needed a return-to-work release, which he provided on Feb. 23 of that year.

Meanwhile a dispute developed with the hospital as to his eligibility for FMLA eligibility. Although the Department of Labor told him he was eligible, OhioHealth reiterated on a number of occasions its understanding that he was not because he had been on leave when he reached his one-year-of-employment mark entitling him to eligibility. A subsequent investigation by the hospital determined he had become eligible.

He was not told until March 12, 2013, that he was being restored to his prior position on 7 Orange. He filed suit against the hospital two days later, charging interference with his FMLA rights, and went back to work on March 18, 2013, according to the ruling.

Mr. Casagrande was suspended from the hospital on Sept. 12, 2013, for “multiple medication administration safety events” and for failing to meet expectations, and was terminated a month later. Mr. Casagrande then added a retaliation charge to his lawsuit.

The U.S. District Court in Columbus, Ohio, granted the defendants’ summary judgment dismissing the case, which a three-judge appeals court panel reversed in a 2-1 ruling.

“There is no dispute … that OhioHealth did not advise Casagrande that his failure to provide medical certification would result in denial of job restoration,” said the majority ruling.
“As a result, we find that OhioHealth interfered with Casagrande’s FMLA rights as a matter of law, because even if OhioHealth had a policy of requiring fitness-for-duty certification, and even if OhioHealth notified Casagrande of this policy, it is undisputed that OhioHealth did not inform Casagrande of the consequences of failing to provide a certification,” said the ruling on the FMLA interference charge.

“A jury should weigh the evidence and determine whether Casagrande was harmed by the delay in job restoration” and whether a check offered to him by OhioHealth, which allegedly was not for the full amount he was owed, “fully compensated him for the harm.”

In reinstating the retaliation charge, the majority ruling said there was evidence he had been subjected to increased scrutiny and discipline after he returned from medical leave. The case was remanded for further proceedings.

The minority opinion agreed with the majority on the FMLA interference claim. On the retaliation charge, however, the dissenting opinion states, “Casagrande has not shown that OhioHealth’s proffered rationale for firing him had no basis in fact.” 

“Without any admissible evident showing that the defendants’ legitimate reason for his termination was not the actual one, Casagrande’s retaliation claim fails,” said the dissenting opinion.


Read Next